From the inception of his 17 strikeout one-hitter, you had the sense something very special was going to happen to Brandon Morrow.
While he didn’t completely keep the Tampa Bay Rays out of the hit column, he was dialed in from the very first inning and dominated the competition from start to finish.
As Blue Jays fans, we have been privy to some pretty spectacular pitching performances in recent memory, but this one will definitely go down as one of the best.
I was fortunate enough to be in attendance at the Rogers Centre on June 24th 2007 when Dustin McGowan took a no-hitter into the ninth inning against the Colorado Rockies. McGowan was three outs away from recording a no-hitter, but he “only” struck out 7 hitters … Brandon Morrow struck out 17.
Apparently this start didn’t just resonate in Blue Jays club history, but within the context of Major League Baseball history as well. According to Bill James’ “Game Score”, Morrow’s performance will stand as the fourth best in the modern era.
Morrow’s weapon of choice was his slider, which coaxed 10 strikeouts in itself and all but one which were swinging. He did a great job of keeping the Rays off pace by mixing up his 96 MPH fastball and interchanging it with his slider and splitter on occasion.
I don’t think there was any question as to whether Cito Gaston should have kept Brandon Morrow in the game after the ball squirted out of Aaron Hill’s glove for that lone hit in the ninth inning.
In my mind, you don’t take the ball out of a pitcher’s hands who has already fanned 16. Morrow was obviously dialed in and so long as he didn’t let that single get to him, keep him in there unless he proves he can’t finish the game. After that effort, Brandon Morrow earned the right to finish that game.
Initially I heard the Evan Longoria single on the radio and was praying it would be scored an error since it sounded like Aaron Hill got a glove on it. Unfortunately, since Hill was playing close to second base with a runner on first and a right-handed hitter at the plate, he didn’t have enough time to get to that ball.
Even if Hill does make the catch in that scenario, he’d have to spin and throw from his knees to get Longoria at first base. Although, Longoria’s no slouch on the basepaths and he might have reached the bag by the time Aaron Hill fires to Overbay anyway. Unless it was a botched routine play, there was no way it was going to be scored an E4.
Lord knows if I ever get that Flux Capacitor working on my Delorean and get it up to 88 miles per hour, I’m going back and scoring that play as an error.
Having said that, just because a no-hitter barely slipped through the fingers of Brandon Morrow’s grasp doesn’t mean it was all for not. Although there has been one no-hitter in club history, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a pitching performance that was more dominant than Brandon Morrow’s one-hitter against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Judging by how close Brandon Morrow came to duplicating what only Dave Stieb has done before him in a Blue Jays uniform, I think it’s only a matter of time before he tosses a no-hitter.